The reasoning as to why October 9th was chosen to be Chicago Day—the anniversary of the Great Fire of 1871—and not October 8th, the start of the fire, may be open to speculation. One theory may be that October 9th may have signified as the first day of the Great Rebuilding, as the following anecdote might suggest:
The Inter Ocean, July 25, 1893
Alderman Kerr introduced a resolution setting forth Oct. 9 next as Chicago day at the World’s Fair. This was adopted by a narrow majority.
Chicago Tribune, July 26, 1893
In providing for a great celebration of Chicago day, Oct. 9, the Council Monday night passed resolutions with a long list of whereases, saying that the Fair is a Chicago enterprise, recognizing all the advantages, moral, social, political, and mercantile, setting forth the duty of taking the lead in bringing a more fraternal feeling, and of making the attendance proportionate to the exhibits, also saying:
- WHEREAS, We recognize in the gathering of the various States of the Union and nations of the earth in friendly competition on the threshold of Chicago a realization of the fact that “peace hath her victories no less than war,” and believe that the opportunity, with its solemn obligations and ultimate influences for good, should not be permitted to pass without the Corporation of the great City of Chicago taking action looking to an appropriate commensurate with the dignity of the historical event and her own peerless position among the capitals of the world; and
WHEREAS, Such celebration should, in our judgement, be typical of the growth of Chicago as an exemplification of the rapid development of the entire country, and should illustrate the friendly reunion of the various States and symbolize the grandeur and glory of the entire nation; be it
Resolved, That Oct. 9, the twenty-second anniversary of the great fire, be set apart for such celebration in honor of the World’s Columbian Exposition, and that the Committee on World’s Fair be instructed to prepare such a program as shall reflect credit upon our people and their government.
The resolution, when its long whereases were read in the Council during the hot fight over the confirmation of the appointees to the Board of Education, created considerable merriment, and not half the Aldermen knew the contents or purport of it. There was therefore no discussion of it yesterday, but it is probable that when the time comes the World’s Fair committee will endeavor to outdo Ald. Madden’s July 4 arrangements. The committee has at its head Ald. Kerr, who introduced the reolution, and as members Ald. Frances, Kent, O’Neill, Hepburn, Campbell, Kleineke, Marrenner, Howell, McGillen, Kenny, Schumacher, and Sexton.
Chicago Tribune, October 9, 1893
By towns, by counties, by states, it seemed, the American people yesterday flocked to Chicago. Through the gates of the big depots during the morning hours poured tho visiting tidal wave of humanity. At dawn yesterday the began arriving even more heavily loaded than the specials.
At 7 o clock in the crush began at the Union Depot and continued without a break up to 2 o’clock in the afternoon. There was a short respite then, during which the depot yards were cleared up for the final struggle from 6 o’clock until midnight.
Buffeted and beaten back, the depot gatemen inside the Iron railings of the covered area and here, reinforced by a cordon of Central Station police, they made their last stand. At 7:30 o’clock Depot-master Case telephoned for reinforcements and twelve officers in uniform were sent over from Central Station. The added detail was divided between the gates and the street exit on Canal street. The baggage and transfer men for a few hours were swamped with the crush of business. Officers, depot officials, hackmen, every one, in fact, turned in to keep the crowd of visitors in motion.
Nothing but people and all sorts of people were in the depot and the surrounding streets when at 7:20 the first of the Chicago and Alton sections pulled in. In the ensuing twenty minutes the average was a section or train every two and one-half minutes. The 7 o’clock Chicago and Alton through train came in three sections, averaging thirteen coaches and fifty passengers to a coach. The Chicago, Burlington and Quincy regular Kansas City train carne in six sections of twelve coaches each.
Hang on the Platforms.
Some of these coaches were crowded beyond belief. The conductor on one of the last sections said that after 4 o clock Sunday morning he had refused to allow any more passengers crowded into the ears. Notwithstanding this order to tho climbed onto the and in cases hug6 to the steps for hours. The Chicagwo and Alton from the point came in Hive f)OO to a section. The 6:45 Burlington in three sections averaging 800 to a train and the Chicago Burlington and Quincy spcial ?fot Burlngton find suir- points in four uec-ions, 850 people to a section.
Milwaukee seems to have set out for Chicago en famille, leaving only a few policemen to watch the town during the absence of Its inhabitants. The morning specials on the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul brought from Milwaukee alone 3,300 people. on four fifteen-car trains, and in the afternoon the same line unloaded in Chicago five more trains of like capacity. The 8:20 Denver express, Chicago, Burlington and Quincy, in four sections, and the three St. Louis morning trains came in the increasing ratio of two, three, and four sections. During the afternoon the Eastern visitors had a chance at what was left in and about the Union depot.
The 3:50 Denver express had hardly gorged the its three unloaded sections when the Keystone and Columbian expresses arrived, nine sections each, with an average of fourteen cars to a section. All this time the town was filling up from the other depots.
Union Depotmaster D. D. Case, who has had, thirty-odd years’ experience in judging crowds in and about railway depots, estimates that up to 2 o’clock yesterday 100,000 people entered Chicago by the trunk lines with at the Union Depot. Saturday’s crowd at the same depot he estimated at 125,000 for the entire day, “It is the greatest crowd that I ever knew of at a passenger station,” said the depotmaster, “and when I say that 100,000 were handled here between the hours of 7 o’clock and 2 o’clock today that means a lot of people, more than any idea in figures can carry.”
Illinois Central Van Buren terminal
Many More Trains Comning.
From passengers on the through trains it is learned that they passed numerous specials sidetracked at different points outside of Chicago waiting until the through trains cleared the track. Insomuch as all of the through trains ran in many sections, the specials were delayed from four to eight hours, And it is doubtful if some of them teach Chicago in time for the passengers to attend today’s big celebration. The regular Michigan Central was four hours late and came in seven sections. Four of the sections were special excursionists from the line of the New York Central and Hudson River Railway, and one from the line of the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg Railroad. The last two sections were made up of tbe Brooklyn Eagle special excursion and the Governor of Connecticut and his staff. On the Iowa division of the Chicago And Northwestern railway eleven trains were sent into Chicago, averaging 860 people to the train. The little Dearborn Street Station was swamped by 11 o’clock yesterday morning, and after the specials and extra began to pile up in the depot yards passengers were unloaded anywhere and all the gates thrown open. Up to noon the depot officials figured that 30,000 visitors arrived. Up to 6 o’clock, from all obtained estimates at the various depots and trunk line offices, 170,000 people were brought into Chicago yesterday. But all night long belated specials were arriving and the tardy ones became the walking ones, for within the gates of the city was housed tile largest crowd Chicago ever provided for.
Chicago Tribune, October 10, 1893
Seven hundred and thirteen thousand, six hundred and forty-six!
There were 713,646 paid admissions to the World’s Fair yesterday. This figure includes all tickets sold in advance or otherwise. There were, however, over three-quarters of a million of people inside the gates of the White City. The following table shows the paid and free admissions:
- PAID ADMISSIONS
Adults (50 Cents), 682,587
Children (25 Cents), 31,059
GRAND TOTAL, 751,026
The count of tickets was not completed until 1:45 this morning.
At 5 o’clock came the first accurate figures on the day’s attendance. They showed that 590,035 tickets had been sold at the gates up to that hour. Before that time the estimates could only be based on what the experience of past big days had taught.
Up to 8 o’clock a.m., while the jam was great, the ticket-sellers had no more than they could handle easily.Then people began to come in swarms, and at several of the gates the men were almost swamped. Before noon considerably more than half the entire paid attendance was inside the fence.
Beckoning from hour to hour, the paid admissions night be bulletined about as follows:
8 a.m., 60,000; 9 a.m., 90,000; 10 a.m., 75,000; 11 a.m., 80,000; 12 p.m., 70,000.
Total for the morning, 355,000
For the afternoon carefully estimated figures follow:
1 p.m., 70,000; 2 p.m., 80,000; 3 p.m., 60,000 4 p.m., 35,000; 5 p.m., 40,000
Total for the afternoon, 305,000.
Grand total for the day up to 5 o’clock, 660,000
Returns from the Ticket Sellers.
The ninety-five ticket sellers had been too busy all day to reckon accurately the number sold, and the men at the gates were in a like plight. At 5 o’clock Supt. Tucker sent out a corps of mounted inspectors, and they brought back the following returns from the ticket offices:
- Alley L Station, 75,000
Woodlawn South, 7,500
Cottage Grove (west end of Midway), 75,000
Madison avenue south, 10,000
Sixty-fourth street, 78,200
Terminal Station, 38,500
Fifty-ninth street (Midway), 12,500
Cornell avenue, 21,000
Sixtieth street, 23,000
Fifty-ninth street, 18,500
Fifty-seventh street, 68,650
Madison street north, 7,039
Woodlawn north, 10,000
Sixty-second street, 31,000
Sixtieth and Illinois Central platform, 32,800
Van Buren street, 41,000
Baltimore and Ohio railroad (sold on trains), 1,750
Thirty-ninth and Fortieth streets (new offices opened for Chicago Day), 40,000
Advance sales estimated, 120,000
GRAND TOTAL, 716,035
The apparent discrepancy between the totals of hourly estimates and of Supt. Tucker’s figures is due to the fact that a large portion of the 120,000 tickets sold in advance were not presented at the gates.
Chicago Day Admission Ticket
Where Most Tickets Were Sold.
It will be soon that by far the largest number of tickets were sold at the Sixty-fourth street gate, the Alley L Terminal Station, the Cottage Grove avenue entrances at the west end of Midway, and the Fifty-seventh street gate. While men stood 10,000 deep about Sixty-fourth street they seemed unable or unwilling to walk to either Sixtieth or Fifty-ninth street, and in consequence these gates, while fully manned, did a comparatively small amount of business. On the contrary, the gates along the Midway, which are provided with only a single ticket seller, were fairly besieged. The Cottage Grove avenue cable brought and dumped tens of thousands before the entrance at the west end of Midway during the morning hours, and Capt. De Remer was forced to send twenty men to fight back the crowd and keep them in lines leading to the ticket offices and gates.
Capt. De Remer said last night he believed a good many thousand people got over the fences along Midway and about the south end of the grounds
After 5 o’clock Supt. Tucker’s office was a busy place. Ticket-seller after ticket-seller came in bringing great boxes full of currency and silver in patrol wagons guarded by armed officers. As fast as the money was counted and checked up it was taken down to the little room below, where Treasurer Seeberger’s force of clerks went over the coin again. There a dozen Columbian guards, all ex-regular soldiers, stood about the walls. They wore cartridge belts around their waists carrying forty rounds of ammunition, and each of them was armed with a Springfield rifle. Pretty nearly $100,000 was dumped into his little room before midnight.
The Grand Plaza in front of the Administration Building, seen on Chicago Day, Oct. 9, 1893
Surpassed Only Once in History.
Once upon a time, if the statements of historians may be accepted, there was an assemblage of human beings which outnumbered yesterday’s crowd. This assemblage crossed the Hellespont something over 2,000 years ago, under the command of King Xerxes of Persia., bent upon carrying death and destruction into Greece. Including servants, sutlers, women, eunuchs, and other camp followers it numbered 5,283,220 souls, according to the method of computation employed. This was to assemble 10,000 men as closely together as possible, erect a wall around them, then march them out and refill the inclosure until the entire army with its followers passed through.
Since that day at no place upon this earth have so many men and women been gathered in so limited space as were assembled in Jackson Park yesterday; never in the history of the world have so many persons paid for the privilege of entering an inclosure in a single day. In fact, so vastly superior in point of numbers was the Chicago Day crowd to all others that have paid admissions that comparisons are out of the question. In order to gain an idea of the relative immensity of the throng it is necessary to compare it with all sorts of gatherings for all sorts of purposes at all times in all places.
To speak of a “big crowd” is to convey an extremely vague idea. The day President Cleveland visited the fair in St. Louis in 1889 130,000 people paid to get within the inclosure and this was considered something phenomenal in the Missouri City. Seventeen years ago the American idea of a great crowd was much more modest than now. The greatest attendance at the Centennial Exposition in one day, 217,526, was looked upon as extraordinary. It will be remembered that attendance at the World’s Fair last Saturday, which exceeded this figure by 5,000, attracted particular attention. On the big day at the Paris Exposition, 397,150 persons passed through the gates. The average attendance Sundays was 200,000 and weekdays 100,000. On the opening day the attendance was 110,000, the last day, 370,000, the day the Shah of Persia visited the fair, 330,000, and the day Edison was the distinguished visitor 254,000 persons passed the turnstiles.
Other Crowd-Drawing Events.
Next to international exposition in drawing power may be placed the Oxford-Cambridge boat race, which last spring brought together a concourse estimated to number 300,000, but the crowd, it must be remembered, was scattered along more than three miles of river front and paid nothing for the witnessing of the event. There was absolutely no means of computing the crowd with any degree of accuracy.
A glance at the following table will give in comprehensive form an idea of the comparative size of great gatherings in the past.
- Greatest day at Paris Exposition, 397,150
Greatest day at Centennial, 217,526
Bank Holiday in London, 1890 (est.), 230,000
Cleveland day, St. Louis Fair, 1880, 130,000
Melbourne cup day, Melbourne, 1803 (est.), 225,000
Shah of Persia day, Paris Exposition, 330,000
Closing day, Paris Exposition, 370,000
Cleveland’s inauguration, 1893 (est.), 275,000
Grand Army encampment, Washington, 1805 (est.), 325,000
Review of Union armies, Washington, 1865 (est.), 500,000
English derby day, 1893 (est.), 150,000
Oxford-Cambridge boat race, 1893 (est.), 300,000
Unveiling Grant monument, Chicago, 1891 (est.), 170,000
Edison day at Paris Exposition, 254,000
American derby day, 1892, 41,000
Naval Review, New York, April 28, 1893 (est.), 350,000
Cottage Grove Station
Chicago Day Broadside
Chicago Tribune, October 10, 1893
The Tribune Building was draped from portal arch to coping in the national colors. In the sunlight this tri-colored bunting set out in bright colors against the background of brown stone. At night the facades of the building on Dearborn and Madison streets were brilliantly outlined with incandescent lights of red, white and blue.
Over the main entrance to the counting room the golden effigy of a giant eagle spread its pinions.The figure was outlined with electric lights, which set out its profile in the glowing colors of freedom. The bird of liberty was the center-piece of The Tribune Building decorations, Under the windows, beginning with the second story, red, white, and blue bunting streamed on either side across the faces of the building. It was caught up at intervals, where it was fastened with rosettes and shields of the Union, set in draped American flags. Successively up to the fifth story this drapery hung. Above the top story the coping was swathed in the tri-color bunting that also floated from the base of the corner flag-staff in a bold sweep on other side to the second story windows where the ends were fastened with shields. The cornices of the building were made to blaze at night with serried rows of red, white, and blue electric lights and the windows were bordered with the same brilliant decorations. Surmounting all, the Stars and Stripes and the colors of Chicago.
The Tribune Building Decked in Bunting and Ablaze with Electricity on Chicago Day.
Picturesque World’s Fair, An Elaborate Collection of Colored Views—
Published with the Endorsement and Approval of George R. Davis
On the night of October 9, 1871, the City of Chicago was destroyed by fire, the devastation being so great as to excite the sympathy of the whole civilized world. Where had been a flourishing city was but a great expanse of smoking ruins. So complete was the destruction that the task of rebuilding seemed an impossible one. It was the greatest fire in history.
October 9, 1893, was “Chicago Day” at the World’s Columbian Exposition, the day selected to do honor to the city in which the great Fair was held. The view above given, showing a part of the throng in the Court of Honor, tells a portion of the story. More than seven hundred and fifty-one thousand people assembled on the grounds! It was the greatest gathering in history.
Special Supplement to The Inter Ocean
World’s Fair Puck
October 9, 1893
Chicago Day Waltz
Chicago Day Programme